Speech/statement | Date: 09/10/2009 | Office of the Prime Minister
Translation from Norwegian. For information only.
Mr President, Representatives of the People,
I greet the Storting as it takes up its solemn responsibilities with the wish that the fulfilment of these duties will be of benefit to our country.
The coalition parties attained a majority in this year’s general elections. The Government will continue its work on the basis of the election results. The Government will base its efforts on the policy platform presented by the Labour Party, the Socialist Left Party and the Centre Party at Soria Moria on 7 October.
The Government bases its policy on solidarity, value creation and social justice. The Government will pursue a policy aimed at achieving employment for all, increasing knowledge and improving local welfare services. Efforts to prevent dangerous man-made climate change will be in particular focus.
The Government’s policy is designed to reflect and respect diversity, at the same time as it incorporates fundamental values of our Christian and humanitarian heritage.
The Government will champion the Norwegian social model, with its active representative democracy, high levels of employment, good universal public welfare services and close cooperation between the authorities and the social partners.
The Government bases its policy on strong support for the UN and international law, membership of NATO, the EEA Agreement and Norway’s status as a non-member of the EU.
In its foreign policy, the Government will give priority to Norwegian interests and areas where Norway is in a position to make a difference. At the same time, the purpose of Norwegian foreign policy is to promote global public goods and help build a better organised world.
The High North is the Government’s most important strategic foreign policy priority.
During the previous parliamentary term, we made the historic achievement of increasing allocations for development assistance to one per cent of GNI. The Government intends to maintain Norway’s official development assistance at above this level.
The Government’s defence policy is based on the long-term plan for the Norwegian Defence.
The Government will promote Norwegian interests in the current WTO negotiations. The Government will seek to ensure that poor countries have the opportunity and ability to engage in production and development, and to participate in world trade.
The international financial crisis has propelled the world economy into the worst downturn since World War II. There are, however, signs that the rate of decline is slowing, and 2010 is expected to see an upturn. 2010 could still be difficult for large parts of the Norwegian economy, particularly the export industries. The Government will therefore follow the situation closely.
The Government will pursue a fiscal policy designed to promote stable economic development in both the short and the long term. The Government’s budget policy will be based on the fiscal rule for the use of petroleum revenues.
The Government will give priority to the common good rather than tax cuts. Therefore, in the coming parliamentary term, the Government will maintain the current overall tax level, but there is scope for better distribution of wealth.
The Government will develop environmental and climate change strategies for the Government Pension Fund – Global.
The Government will pursue a business policy that promotes innovative, knowledge-based, environmentally sound business activities in all parts of the country. The Government will continue to give priority to those areas where we have particular advantages.
Agriculture is an important factor in settlement and employment patterns in large parts of the country. The Government will further develop the income and social welfare policy pursued during its previous term.
Norway has special opportunities by virtue of its northerly location and long coastline. The aim is that Norway should be the world’s leading seafood nation. The Government will therefore boost marine research.
The Government will ensure that there is a good transport and communications network throughout the country and will increase investment in transport in accordance with the National Transport Plan. The Government will continue its efforts to extend mobile phone coverage and facilitate the provision of a broadband network with sufficient capacity.
The Government will improve, strengthen and renew the public welfare schemes with a view to sustainability at a time when demographic challenges, in particular, are considerable.
The Government does not intend to privatise or commercialise basic welfare services. The Government will further develop cooperation between the public sector and voluntary actors and non-profit organisations.
The Government will, in consultation with the municipal sector, ensure sound, sustainable municipal finances. The available resources will be used to maintain and improve services.
The Government will seek to ensure the same standard of living in all parts of the country and to make use of local resources. The Government will maintain settlement patterns with a view to preserving and further developing the rich history and cultural diversity they represent and the potential this offers for local growth.
One of the main aims of the Government’s policy is universal employment. It is important to prevent higher unemployment rates from leading to long-term unemployment and exclusion.
Close cooperation between the social partners and the authorities provides a good foundation for a well-functioning labour market. The Government will secure and strengthen employees’ rights.
The Government will request the social partners to ascertain whether there is a basis for a strategy to reduce the gender pay gap in the public sector, and to recommend which groups should be covered by such a strategy. The social partners must also develop a mechanism that ensures equal pay without undermining the Norwegian wage formation system.
The Government will in the course of the parliamentary term propose measures for achieving more equitable distribution and combating poverty, particularly among children, and will strengthen municipal child welfare services.
The Government will implement the pension reform in accordance with the broad agreement reached in the Storting in 2005 and 2007.
A good universal health care system requires a strong public health service where the hospitals are primarily owned and operated by the authorities, supplemented by private actors and specialists under contract.
The Government will improve hospital financing and carry out the reform to improve coordination between the various actors in the health sector. The current decentralised hospital structure will be maintained.
The Government will follow up the agreement reached in the Storting on policy towards the elderly set out in Care Plan 2015, for example by providing a place in a nursing home or a sheltered housing unit for everyone who needs one by 2015.
The Government will take steps to ensure that more elderly persons and persons with disabilities are able to live at home.
The Government will further intensify efforts to combat substance abuse.
One of the Government’s most important priorities is to invest in education, research and knowledge.
The Government will continue to pursue a policy of full day-care coverage, and will give priority to improving the quality of day-care services.
In its efforts to ensure high-quality education, the Government’s main priority is to increase the number of well qualified teachers in the schools. The Government will initiate the process of amending the Education Act in order to set a maximum limit for the pupil–teacher ratio at each school.
The Government will provide a certain number of hours of after-school care free of charge, during which children will be offered assistance with homework, physical activities and possibly also cultural activities in cooperation with music and art schools.
The Government will promote cooperation and a clearer division of tasks in the higher education sector in order to improve the provision of higher education throughout the country, and increase the number of student places.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The Government intends Norway to be a pioneer in environmental policy. The environment must be a cross-cutting concern in all areas of activity.
The Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December will be an important milestone in the efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Government will work towards a climate regime that obliges rich countries both to pay for their own emissions cuts and help to finance emissions reductions in poor countries.
The Government will ensure that endangered species and habitat types are given adequate protection, so that future generations can enjoy the same biological, geological and landscape diversity that we do. As far as possible, forest protection should be voluntary.
The main features of the agreement reached in the Storting in 2004 on policy relating to large predators will be continued. The Government will review the population targets for wolves and bears and seek broad agreement on these targets in the Storting.
The Government’s aim is that Norway should be an environmentally sound and world-leading energy nation, and the production of renewable energy will be significantly increased.
The Government will launch a common Norwegian–Swedish market for green certificates in 2012, and will propose a transitional scheme for the intervening period.
The Government will follow up its strategy on bioenergy and ensure that policy tools are employed in a targeted and coordinated manner to increase bioenergy capacity.
Value creation, employment and expertise in the petroleum sector will be maintained at a high level.
The Government will maintain exploration activity, and ensure that the petroleum industry has the opportunity to explore areas of potential interest.
The areas off Lofoten and Vesterålen will not be opened up for petroleum activities in the current parliamentary term. When the integrated management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area is revised in 2010, the Government will consider whether to carry out an environmental impact assessment of petroleum activities.
The Government will implement its arts promotion programme Kulturløftet, which implies that 1% of the government budget will be allocated to the cultural sector by 2014. Phase II of this programme will form the basis of the Government’s cultural policy in the years to come.
The Government wishes to strengthen the Sami language, culture, industries and society, and will help the Sami to function as one people across national borders.
The Government will pursue a coherent criminal policy aimed at better prevention, a higher clear-up rate, more rapid response and more effective rehabilitation.
The Government will increase the number of police officers by ensuring that enrolment at the Police University College remains high, and continue efforts to make the police more visible and accessible.
The Government will pursue a consistent, fair asylum and refugee policy that ensures due process.
The Government will reduce the number of applications for asylum in Norway from people who are not in need of protection.
Norway’s practice should for the most part be in line with the practice of comparable countries.
The Government’s aim is that Norway should be an inclusive society.
A strong welfare state is an important factor for integration. Day-care for all, a good public education system, reliable health and care services, a socially responsible housing policy and promotion of a broad range of cultural activities are essential for successful integration.
The Government will follow up the action plan for universal design and increased accessibility.
The Government will support and provide funding for diversity of religion and belief in Norway.
The Government will provide a framework that makes it possible for the Church of Norway to continue to be an open and inclusive national church. The agreement on the relationship between church and state is to be followed up.
The Government will build further on the extensive plans presented during the previous parliamentary term and the broad agreements reached in the Storting. Over the next four years, the Government will seek to reach new agreements that have the support of a broader majority in the Storting. The Government invites everyone to take part in these efforts.
I pray that God will bless the deliberations of this Storting, and I hereby declare the 154th session of the Norwegian Storting to be open.
Given at the Royal Palace in Oslo on 9 October 2009
Under Our Hand and the Seal of the Realm